The other day I was talking with a very good friend of mine and for probably the hundredth time he said to me, “I really need to meditate, I want you to teach me how to meditate but I need to find the time. I just need to get this next project completed.”
Of all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances he is by far the busiest person I know.
BUT he’s not really that unique….. TIME is what we all seem to need more of! Everyone seems to be running out of time and it’s driving us crazy!
Here’s the thing though you don’t need more time… You just need to stop thinking you do!
Don’t freak out – I’m not going to get all meta-physical and tell you that time is a man-made concept and it doesn’t really exist.
Because conventionally speaking it DOES exist and it’s a parameter within which we have to live and operate.
Instead I’d like to show you the consequences of thinking “I need more time” and how it makes us miserable and LESS productive.
I’ll start by asking you 2 questions:
How do you feel when you think you don’t have enough time?
How efficient do you think you are when you’re under pressure?
The moment you start thinking you don’t have enough time your amygdala, which initiates the stress response, gets fired up and the next thing you know your body is releasing stress hormones.
Now a little bit of stress hormones can be good to motivate us to get going. Unfortunately though we often take it too far and too many stress hormones can make us FEEL anxious and think less clearly.
The difference is in how long you tell yourself you don’t have enough time! If you keep that narrative on an automatic loop in your head then you’ve gone too far!
Under these conditions everything becomes harder to do and takes MORE TIME!
Let’s say you’re running late to a meeting. In an effort to “save time” you return a call to a client while driving to the meeting. While listening to something important your client was saying, you miss your exit. You frantically start thinking of an alternative route, while also tallying up the damage this further delay will cost you – meanwhile you’ve missed the rest of what your client was telling you – causing you more anxiety.
By the time you make it to your meeting you have used up most of your mental energy and you’re left feeling anxious, reactive and spent.
We just can’t take that much input at once!
And that’s because when we are stressed out – our prefrontal cortex checks out. This is the part of our brain that helps us think clearly, reason, solve problems, plan…. Probably a useful addition for any meeting!
On some level most of us know we only have a limited capacity for brain power, but still we soldier on, trying to fill in as much as we can in every available moment.
Intellectually we understand this, but we don’t really KNOW it to be true (one of the many lies we tell ourselves).
If we really did know this we would take breaks often throughout the day – we would value our breaks as importantly as any client meeting. We wouldn’t attempt to multi-task and we might even learn to say no to some things – and guess what the world will not end!
So how do you break this habit?
By contemplating the consequences of this way of thinking.
Take 5 minutes every morning to sit quietly and reflect on how you feel when you don’t think you have enough time. See how it’s not the number of activities you have to do so much as the way you are relating to them. How anxious you can become just by the thought of your To Do list. And then reflect on how inefficient you are when anxious.
If you don’t take think you have the time to take 5 minutes each day to reflect on this or any other issue you want to change then you won’t change – it’s as simple as that. Change is hard – and it doesn’t come through reading a book or a blog post.
You have to reflect and contemplate the reality of the situation often, until you are 100% convinced that this is the way it is. And when you are “convinced” – in that moment your brain will lay down a new neural network of a new habit – where you KNOW 100% there is zero upside and a lot of downside to thinking “you don’t have enough time.”
You will be happier, make less mistakes and more efficient – and you didn’t need more time for that – you just needed to lose the habit of thinking you do!
We help people find happiness by giving them tools that work. Our services are based on 3 anchors: meditation, mindfulness and understanding our brain. We love to share how our minds work!